Following on from the Beocenter AV5, an integrated 4:3 television with built-in radio and CD player, the BeoVision Avant was introduced in 1994. The first set in this range of new range of integrated widescreened televisions sets was the BeoVision Avant 28. It was a piece of furniture in its own right but unlike anything else that had gone before, notably the Beovision 9002 which had been on sale a full decade before in its richly veneered wooden cabinet. The Avant however, was colour coordinated and made up on the screen itself sitting on top of a pedestral (which was labelled ‘the wall’) comprising both a VCR and in-built loudspeakers offering 39 watts per channel, which in turn sat on a brushed aluminium motorised base. The whole concept looked elegant and relatively slim and blended in to most customers’ home décor. The set offered a good picture on its slightly curved screen and a display was positioned on the top right-hand side showing the source being played as well as other information in its red LED display.
Once the set was turned on by using its Beo4 remote control, the set swiveled around to its preset position and electronic ‘curtains’ glided across the blacked-out screen, reminiscent of the Beosystem AV9000 and its own mechanical curtain system. The illusion was to give the viewer that of a small cinema screen. The amplified loudspeakers offered a good, round sound, delivering an excellent bass response because of the relatively large cabinet into which they werre housed. At the time that the Avant was launched there were few widescreen transmissions as such so the viewer had a choice of either viewing broadcast material in its native 4:3 format with black bars at each side of the screen or by stretching it with the terminal’s controls to fill the wide screen more fully. The Avant came into its own with recorded material, specifically video-taped programmes. Its VCR was placed discretely beneath the screen in the ‘wall’, the only viewable part being the video tape slot - the rest of the mechanism hidden totally out of sight. Three buttons were used for the video tape recorder on the top control panel - one each for eject, start and fast rewind. The rest of the VCR’s commands were carried out via the Beo4 terminal although most functions were totally automatic.
As the Beovision Avant came delivered with a MasterLink connector for around-the-house sound and vision, the set was ready to go in this respect. Other options were available for the Avant owner to buy and have fitted to his receiver included that of an anti-reflection coated screen,Picture-in-Picture module, an internal satellite decoder, an external satellite decoder (such as a Sky box or Canal+ box), and a Dolby Pro-Logic decoder with Power Link connectors for active loudspeakers. The Avant was therefore well-suited for adding-to as time progressed and as individuls’ needs changed and new technologies were introduced.
Overall the Avant range was a very successful line for Bang & Olufsen. Linked to its good looks and colour coordinated pearlescent paints (Bang & Olufsen used BMW car paints for the sets’ bodywork) and the fact that users could change their television’s use as their own personal needs changed, the Avant offered a lot to the company’s customers despite the sets’ relatively high prices as compared to other manufacturers (and when teething troubles such as the tubes themselves were ironed out). The weakest point of the set was always the VCR mechanism, which is always a product’s weakest area when mechanics are involved.
The set subsequently offered 100Hz scanning and its chassis was updated accordingly. The next stage in the life of the Avant 28 was when the rounded screen was made flatter. The BeoVision Avant 28 RF then had a further update to its chassis as well as a slight change of cabinet.
Colour finish of the Beovision Avant 28:
Bang & Olufsen has added an elegant integrated 28-inch widescreen television receiver and video cassette recorder to its range, and is planning a return to a more ‘visible’ presence in the British marketplace. The Beovision Avant is designed to give the best picture reproduction no matter which of the current aspect ratios are broadcast or employed in recordings being viewed: i.e. the older 4:3 ’square’ picture designed to be viewed on traditional TV screens or the 16:9 ‘widescreen’ picture favoured by most film makers. Most widescreen TVs so far available have stretched the 4:3 pictures sideways and produced quite noticeable distortion as a result. The Avant stretches the picture to a new 14:9 ratio which gives an agreeable widescreen appearance but with much less distortion.
A VisionClear system automatically adjusts the contrast and brightness to suit the room lighting conditions and there is an electronic ‘curtain’ which opens when the Avant is switched on. New styling has provided a screen which appears to be suspended on a wall, with the main cabinet set back and all cables concealed. The video recorder is also virtually invisible, with just a camouflaged cassette slot below the screen, and its integration with the TV receiver allows data such as preset tuning frequencies and clock time to be exchanged automatically. Full stereo audio is provided with two built-in active loudspeakers and optional Dolby Surround.
The system stands on a motorised revolving base which automatically turns towards a previously chosen viewing position when switched on, and returns to the rest position (e.g. parallel to the wall) when switched off. Five colour finishes are available in a special two-component lacquer, as used on luxury cars, with a mother-of-pearl effect which lights up if directly exposed to a light source or fades into the background at other times.
A comprehensive Beo4 interactive remote control unit provides all TV and recording facilities as well as controlling other B&O products or Beolink multiroom installations. The basic price of the Beovision Avant is £3,500 with the Beo4 an additional £150. Other optional extras include a satellite receiver, a picture-in-picture module and Dolby Surround sound.